Monday, April 26, 2010

MAM Day 26: Real World Geometry Part 3

The last installment of real world geometry is packaging of food and other products. From Earth Day statistics: $1 out of every $11 Americans spend for food goes for packaging.

If you're buying food at the grocery store, chances are you've experienced packaging and the incredible industry that is dedicated to researching and designing new and updated packaging. Packaging influences what catches our eyes when we walk into a store, it influences what we buy or don't buy, and it influences what brands we are most loyal to. Packaging designs are an art really, an art that is based on the geometry of what goes inside.

A great article on The Power of The Box

Some packaging is fancy origami. But think of the spatial research and thousands of hours spent on the design of a package before it hits shelves.

I'm sure most of you have seen how sports drinks, sodas, and bottled water gets updated every once a year or so with a "new package." Gatorade is unveils new designs quite often. Pepsi (the parent company of Gatorade) also goes through brand and packaging redesigns often.

In addition to the increases in portion sizes, Coca Cola bottles have gone through significant redesigns. I'm highly intrigued by how much work actually goes into a new packaging for any product. It seems like a healthy intersection of art, design, and math that makes this such an exciting topic for me. New bottle designs are necessary for a company that wants to stay on top, with new designs, new marketing, new advertisements and a rebranding as a hip and contemporary company.

Coca Cola is also dedicated to reducing packaging and therefore waste.

Mustard and ketchup redesigns are also really exciting. Remember when the newfangled no drip/water squeeze bottles come out and everyone was really excited that mustard/ketchup juice wouldn't gross you out or ruin your hotdogs? All thanks to packaging research.

A science fair project on juice box packaging.

More fancy packaging designs

How to package and store spherical things

Packaging also includes other products that aren't food related. I recently bought tablet for my computer (and no it's not the same thing as an iPad) and was shocked at how much packaging accompanied my tablet. The box outside, an inner molded cardboard holder for my 12.8 oz tablet, lots of plastic bags, wrapping around the cords and bits and pieces of other various "packaging." It's hard to know what's recyclable and what isn't and I would wager that most people just toss everything that they didn't want into the trash instead of separating recyclables out. Despite the waste that packaging produces, experts have to design (using geometry!) and make sure products are packaged the way the company wants.


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